Kartarpur, Nov 28: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Wednesday said Pakistan wants a “strong” and “civilised” relationship with India and the two countries can resolve all issues, including Kashmir, with determination as he laid the foundation stone for a historic corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border.
The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev who is believed to have spent 18 years here. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak is said to have died.
“We want to move forward in our relations with India,” Khan said while addressing the ceremony which was attended by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, government officials, Indian Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri and foreign diplomats.
“Mistakes made on both sides. Our countries must stop blame game. If France & Germany can leave their bloody past behind why can’t India and Pakistan break the chains of the past,” the Pakistan PM said.
Khan added that since both India and Pakistan were armed with nuclear weapons, the option of a war among the two countries was “pagalpan” (madness).
“Peace is our only option,” he said.
Khan said Pakistan and India cannot understand the opportunities God has given to them. He said whenever he visited India, he was told that politicians are united, but the army won’t allow the friendship between the two sides.
“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” Khan asked.
LS Polls 2019:Exit polls predict comfortable win for Modi-led NDA
New Delhi, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance government is likely to return to power after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed.
NDTV’s poll of polls said the NDA would get 302 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 127 seats and other parties (Others) 114 seats.
The Republic TV exit poll gave the NDA 305 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 124 and others 120. Times Now exit poll gave the BJP alliance 306 seats, the UPA 132 seats and Others 104.
News Nation gave the NDA between 282 to 290 seats, the UPA between 118 and 126 seats and Others 130 to 138 seats. Sudarshan News gave the NDA 313 seats, UPA 121 seats and Others 109+.
Analysts see the election as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch in trying to win votes by projecting a tough stance against Pakistan, especially after a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir.
He has also spoken about a Rs 75,000-crore income support scheme for farmers, toilets built as part of the national cleanliness campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, rural electrification scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and cooking gas scheme for the poor Ujjwala Yojana.
The Congress and other Opposition parties are challenging the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over unemployment and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has also accused Modi of corruption in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France.
Voter turnout in the first six rounds was approximately 66 per cent, according to the Election Commission, compared with 66.40 per cent in the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
Voting has largely been peaceful but for sporadic violence in West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to wrest seats from Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee’s All India Trinamool Congress.
In a drastic and unprecedented action, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning by a day in West Bengal on Thursday, after days of clashes in the final stretch of the election.
Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in the 543-seat Parliament. The BJP, which won a majority of 282 seats in 2014, may need some regional parties as allies to stay in power.
The BJP will need to do well in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the most in a state. The party had won 71 of them in 2014, but this time it has been challenged by a coalition between the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The voting on Sunday covers 59 seats in eight states and Union Territories. It also includes Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, where he had won in 2014.
Votes cast in the seven phases of elections will be counted on May 23.
New dispensation in Delhi has to address Kashmir issue: Mirwaiz
Srinagar, May 19: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday said that Hurriyat leadership was ready to support talks between India and Pakistan provided India accepted Kashmir as a dispute.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Hurriyat Conference here, he said, “We are not against either the people of India or development. If India and Pakistan initiate a dialogue, we are ready to support it, but India must first accept the basic reality that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute”.
He said the Hurriyat Conference was against India’s policies which were presently being implemented in Kashmir.
“It is unfortunate that New Delhi has choked all means of peaceful protest in the Valley. Even pro-freedom leaders are not allowed to meet the people. How can ideas come up if all spaces are choked,” he asked.
Mirwaiz further said that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had realised that the only possible solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found through a dialogue process.
He also demanded that the Indian government should withdraw the bans imposed on different organisations in Kashmir.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the present prevailing situation in Kashmir as sensitive and painful stating that there is no letup in the policies of repression and intimidations as killings, harassment and CASOs continue unabated even in this holy month of Ramadhan.
He said there were apprehensions whether the authorities would allow the seminar as last year, the then government had barred it and caged entire Hurriyat leadership. Mirwaiz said that the repressive measures are being taken to suppress the genuine voices of people of Kashmir.
Mirwaiz said that he was feeling the pain whenever any youth is martyred in government forces action or in encounters stating that that it was beyond doubt that the gun-wielding local boys were the products of the ongoing oppression and they are getting consumed in the ongoing unresolved conflict. He said emotions and repressions is driving the educated youth of Kashmir towards armed means of resistance as every scope for raising voices peacefully stand chocked.
Touted as game-changer, ambitious e-governance SWAN project yet to take off even after 13 years
Srinagar, May 19: Thirteen years on, the ambitious State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project is yet to see the light of the day in Jammu and Kashmir.
The 2005 Government of India project was aimed to synchronize all official departments of a given state through a dedicated internet connection in a closed used group. Thirteen years after the approval, the project is yet to be completed.
The government has now appointed a four member committee to conduct a thorough probe into the irregularities and lack of progress in implementation of SWAN project. Headed by Principal Secretary Transport Department, the four member committee includes Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Department, and Secretary Higher Education. The fact finding panel have been asked to submit the report by June 6.
Project Manager, Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency, Irfan Ahmad and Public Information Officer, Imran-ul-Sofi pleaded ignorance about the status of the project. Instead of divulging details, both officers asked to contact Financial Commissioner, Information Technology, Suresh Kumar.
Kumar however could not be contacted for the comments. Additional Secretary Information Technology Vaibhav Kohli passed the buck to project managers. “You ask project managers about the same,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) functions under the Information Technology. As per the details available on its website, the SWAN project is a major core infrastructure project under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).
The project, if implemented, was expected to provide connectivity to the two state headquarters (SHQ), 20 District Headquarters (DHQ), and 152 block headquarters (BHQ) with a minimum internet speed of 2 megabytes per second.
Further, the network would have connected all state and designated government offices located within a 15 kms radius of the SHQ, all state and other designated offices located within 10 kms of each DHQ), and all state and other designated offices located within five kms of each BHQ.
In 2009, the then government had prepared a Draft Proposal Report (DPR) for Rs 106.57 crores for implementing SWAN in the state and forwarded the same to Ministry of Information Technology Government of India. The tenders were floated four different times until March 2014 but all of them were cancelled since bids received for creating SWAN were apparently high.
SWAN would have substantially reduced the overall time taken in completing administrative tasks by providing converged communications services (voice, data and video) accessible to all government departments. “It would have reduced unnecessary movement of vehicles, employees and documents”, said an official.